Iraq’s Telecommunications Ministry has blocked the country’s popular messaging app Telegram, citing the need to protect national security and personal information. The ministry announced this on Sunday and criticized that those responsible for the messenger had been asked in vain to cooperate in blocking channels in which official and personal data were disseminated. Telegram is widely used in the country, used not only for private communication between people but also as a news source and even as a way of disseminating government information. According to Similarweb, Telegram is used more in the country than WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the rest of the competition.
Popular with the government and its enemies
According to the dpa, the Iraqi state news agency INA has 260,000 subscribers to Telegram, and the app is also used in part by pro-Iranian militias. Names and private data of the country’s security forces have recently been distributed in Telegram channels, including after violent riots in autumn 2021. The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS), which controlled large areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria just a few years ago, has therefore also spread information in the messenger. The Iraqi government justifies the blocking with the platform’s lack of cooperation, but at the same time assures that the right to freedom of expression and communication is respected.
Telegram was only blocked for a few days in Brazil at the end of April, the reason being the platform’s refusal to provide the Brazilian federal police with requested data on neo-Nazi chat groups. She has investigated several armed attacks on schools and kindergartens in the country, which had increased sharply. The nationwide ban was classified as disproportionate by a federal judge and lifted after a few days. Telegram had already been blocked for two days across Brazil in 2022, at that time it was about violations of previous judicial decisions. Telegram has not yet issued a statement on the lockdown that has now been imposed in Iraq.
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